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EXCLUSIVE: R train’s East River tunnel may reopen early

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The R train could be arriving in Manhattan ahead of schedule.

The tunnel that carries the R train between Brooklyn and Manhattan — which has been closed for more than a year — may reopen ahead of schedule, according to insiders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A staffer working to restore the Montague Street Tunnel said the tube, which was closed in August 2013 for post-Hurricane Sandy repairs, will likely be up and running before October, weeks ahead of its scheduled reopening.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the worker said the Authority has already begun sending track geometry cars — automated track-inspection vehicles loaded with high-tech gizmos — through the tunnel to make sure new construction is up to snuff, which is one of the final steps before returning a route to service.

An agency spokesman would not confirm the claim, but hinted that there might be truth in the rumor.

“On schedule for October, maybe sooner,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Not elaborating further, sorry.”

The Authority closed the tunnel because Hurricane Sandy’s salty flood water corroded its mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

The $308 million rehabilitation includes work on tracks, tunnel lighting, circuit-breaker housings, power substations, pump rooms, power cables, fans, and ducts, according to the transit agency. Workers also repaired leaks in the tube and replaced thousands of bolts that hold the tunnel’s 18-foot cast iron tunnel rings in place.

The R train has been running along the Q line between DeKalb Avenue Downtown and Canal Street in Manhattan on weekends.

Updated 3:17 pm, September 8, 2014: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that last weekend marked the first time the R train ran over the Manhattan Bridge. The train has been making the trip on weekends since the Montague Street tunnel closed.
Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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Reasonable discourse

Beth Grabbles from Bay Ridge says:
Horray!!!!
Sept. 8, 2014, 4:20 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
No no no.... The telemetry cars are going through to find the "reason" why the whole budget must be spend and then more funding allocated later, because... well citizen you're on a need to know basis and you don't need to know, now pay no attention to the mansions in Pennsylvania owned by the MTA board.
Sept. 8, 2014, 7:23 am
Bob from Astoria says:
"On Sunday, the R train was running along the Q line between DeKalb Avenue Downtown and Canal Street in Manhattan, marking the first time it connected to Manhattan in more than a year."

Hasn't the R been running between Manhattan and Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge every weekend since the Montague Tube shutdown"
Sept. 8, 2014, 8:09 am
Simon says:
"R train riders could be heading to Mantattan [sic] earlier than expected."

R trains have been running between Manhattan and Brooklyn (via the bridge) every weekend already.
Sept. 8, 2014, 9:47 am
TOM from Sunset Parc Lower says:
Once it's a straight run, single seat, on the 'R' line to the Financial District & Downtown Manhattan look for the real estate price run up in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

Watch out 'L' line investors. It's over for Bed/Stuy and points east.
Sept. 8, 2014, 12:26 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
It will be very good to have the proper R train service restored.

I've been changing at Borough Hall for the 2/3 on my way to lower Manhattan. There, the escalators up from the R or up from the 2/3 seem to be not operating much of the time.

The R, even at it's most croweded, is not as bad as the skinny IRT cars during rush hours.

Long live the R train!!!
Sept. 8, 2014, 4:30 pm
jay from nyc says:
yeah and maybe pigs will fly too.
Sept. 8, 2014, 5:27 pm
Bruce from Bay Ridge says:
The SERVICE ON THE R wasnt too good to begin with... then SANDY STORM.. and SERVICE became slower.. .. then they SHUT the Montague tunnel, and service got worse... switching trains during rush hour, a total pain, and not sure where to switch. and the R just DONT MOVE. Hopefully they will restore MORE SERVICE once they REopen the Tunnel.
Sept. 8, 2014, 6:31 pm
Ace from New Utrecht says:
Bring back the West End M train! The D is getting mighty crowded these days. A restored M during rush hours will really help Sunset Park take off.
Sept. 9, 2014, 10:33 am
God from CityHall says:
September 14, 2014 is the date when full service starts
Sept. 9, 2014, 2:13 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Take off? Sunset Park is densely populated now and the house prices and rents are not cheap. Where are poor people supposed to live?
Sept. 9, 2014, 3 pm
Straphitter from Park Slope says:
The guy in the token booth at Union Street said to me about 1 week ago that the tunnel was not opening early, and may not open until after Oct 31.
Sept. 9, 2014, 4:42 pm
Steven from Park Slope says:
The R train needs to come back NOW! Also, as some others have suggested, the M train also needs to come back especially during peak travel times...
Sept. 10, 2014, 8:12 am
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
The M train to Sunset Park / Borough Park etc ran half empty which is why they rerouted it.

I liked that train - it was convenient to where I work in lower Manhattan.

But it was the right call to reroute it. They shouldn't be running empty trains.
Sept. 10, 2014, 2:53 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Half? More like 2/3rds empty.
Sept. 10, 2014, 4:44 pm
jaded from bay ridge says:
The R train is the slowest thing on earth and will still be slow even after the tunnel reopens. Turtles move faster. Get me out of Bay Ridge and back to civilization!
Sept. 10, 2014, 7:10 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
The R is a local. On balance, it serves us very well.

If you don't like the local, change for the N or D or go the " full yuppie " and take the Express Bus or that phony ferry service that no one uses.
Sept. 10, 2014, 9:31 pm
Jen from Bay Ridge says:
I actually like the R running express now, I live all the way at the end in Bay Ridge so it is very nice to be able to take a train from Union Square that goes all the way to the neighborhood!!
Sept. 13, 2014, 3:50 pm
Dutchess of Bay Ridge from Bay Ridge says:
R train is torture! Local, slow torture!!!
Jan. 22, 2015, 9:52 pm

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